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The Power of Vulnerability—pt. 1  

Vulnerability has been a frequent theme in my recent work and since it is such an important thing in relationships, I’m writing about it now. I was also inspired by a TEDx talk I was turned on to, so I’m going to summarize it for your benefit. If you are interested, and I recommend you be interested, you can watch the actual TED talk. It is called The Power of Vulnerability, by René Brown.

She is a researcher who turned her eye on shame, how it impacts people, and how they deal with it. Shame is really the basic core of feeling bad about yourself. Feeling shameful about something you have done is feeling like it was so horrible that it would not be acceptable to other people. Basic shame is just transferring that feeling of unworthiness to yourself in general.

Dr. Brown took on the task of identifying people who lived with an openness to the world and a seeming absence of the experience of shame. She found that there was one variable that distinguished those who felt worthy from those who didn’t they had the belief that they were worthy.

As she studied this group she came to the conclusion that there were several things that characterized their relationships with others. First, they lived with courage, which she defined as being whole hearted or having the courage to be themselves. They embraced themselves as they were with all their glory and all their inadequacies. Not an easy thing to do, but as you will see, an important one.

They were also compassionate. They treated themselves with compassion and others with compassion. The first is actually a requirement for the latter. It is almost impossible to treat others with genuine compassion if you do not treat yourself with real compassion.

They also pursued connection and were connected. Part of this is related to courage. They were able to let go of who they thought they “should” be and just be who they were in relationship to others. This is really required for a real connection. Without being your real self in a relationship and dropping the masks and roles you play, it is impossible to feel secure about the feelings that exist in the relationship with the other person.

And finally, they embraced vulnerability. You look at the prior three paragraphs and that is pretty obvious. It is difficult to embrace your real self, good and bad, and in particular be that person with others, without feeling vulnerable.